Safe Haven

Emmanuel has considered itself a Safe Haven for our children for quite a while now. Now the state wants us to prove it and has legislated requirements that went in to effect July 1, 2015.

 

We are encouraging ALL members and friends of Emmanuel age 18 and older to acquire these clearances; especially, teachers and their helpers, youth leaders and their helpers, confirmation sponsors, choir directors, Willam Penn chaperones, nursery attendants, and all VBS volunteers. The more adults we have cleared, the bigger our pool of resources to carry out our ministries. 

All volunteers having direct contact with children will need these 3 clearances:

  1. Report of criminal history from the Pennsylvania State Police - This Fee is waived for individuals who are not paid volunteers. 
  2. Child Abuse History Clearance from the Department of Human Services - This Fee is waived for individuals who are not paid volunteers.
  3. A signed affirmation that you are not disqualified from service based upon a conviction of an offense under PA Statute 6344

If you have not lived in PA continuously for ten years, you will need in addition to the 3 items above, a fingerprint based federal criminal history (FBI) through the Department of Human Services-$27.50 Fee. (This Fee is NOT waived for individuals who are not paid volunteers.)

If you have clearances, they are valid for 60 (originally 36) months from the date of issue. Please, provide a copy or submit to the church secretary to make a copy.  We are required to have copies on file if you have directl contact with children.

All of these clearances can be applied for electronically. The FBI clearance, also, requires a fingerprint submission. All necessary instructions and links to apply can be found at the following link if you would like to do it yourself.  

 

FAQs

Who needs clearances?

Beginning July 1, 2015, an adult applying for an unpaid position as a volunteer responsible for the welfare of a child or having direct contact with children will need clearances.

What is the definition of child?

For purposes of clearances, a child is an individual under 18 years of age.

How is direct contact with children defined?

Direct contact with children is defined in § 6303 (relating to definitions) as the care, supervision, guidance or control of children or routine interaction with children.

How do I determine who in my agency or organization needs clearances?

Only adult volunteers are required to obtain clearances. If the volunteer is acting in lieu of or on behalf of a parent, they will need clearances. If the volunteer provides care, guidance, supervision or control of children, they need clearances. If the volunteer's contact with children is regular and ongoing contact that is integral to their volunteer responsibilities, they need clearances.

Which clearances are needed?

All prospective volunteers must obtain the following clearances: • Report of criminal history from the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP); and • Child Abuse History Clearance from the Department of Human Services (Child Abuse). A fingerprint based federal criminal history (FBI) submitted through the Pennsylvania State Police or its authorized agent is not required if: • The position is unpaid; and • The volunteer has been a PA resident continuously for 10 years and has no convictions under §6344.

When are clearances needed?

Beginning July 1, 2015, prospective volunteers must submit clearances prior to the commencement of service.

What is the renewal requirement for clearances?

Beginning July 1, 2015, all volunteers will be required to obtain clearances every 36 months. Volunteers are required to obtain updated clearances as follows: • Within 36 months of the date of the most recent clearance; • By July 1, 2016, if the clearance is older than 36 months; or • By July 1, 2016, if they were approved as a volunteer before July 1, 2015, and had not received a clearance because they previously were not required to obtain clearances.

How do I obtain my clearances?

The Child Abuse, PSP and FBI clearances can all be applied and paid for electronically. The FBI clearance also requires a fingerprint submission. All necessary instructions and links to apply for these clearances can be found at the link:
[Read More]

Is the use of a third-party vendor to process clearances acceptable?

Third-party vendors may be used to process Child Abuse, PSP and FBI clearances using the steps established above. They are not permitted to conduct background checks or clearances through other databases in lieu of the steps outlined above. In addition, persons responsible for the selection of volunteers remain responsible for selection decision based upon the information obtained.

How much do the clearances cost?

• The PSP clearance costs $10 • The Child Abuse clearance costs $10 • The FBI clearance costs $27.50 through the Department of Human Services • The FBI clearance costs $28.75 through the Department of Education

Who pays for clearances?

The volunteer is responsible for paying the cost of the required clearances. The only time an agency is required to bear the cost of the clearance is when there is reasonable belief that the volunteer was arrested or convicted of an offense that would deny participation or named as a perpetrator in an indicated or founded report. In these situations, the agency must immediately require the volunteer to obtain their clearances.

Do I still need to submit a copy of my PSP or FBI clearance results when applying for my child abuse clearance?

Beginning December 31, 2014, volunteers are no longer required to submit a copy of their PSP or FBI clearances with their Child Abuse application. If the department receives copies attached to the child abuse application we will not return those copies and they will be shredded due to the confidential nature of the information contained on the clearances.

Are there any other requirements?

If a volunteer is arrested for or convicted of an offense that would constitute grounds for denying participation in a program, activity or service, or is named as a perpetrator in a founded or indicated report, the volunteer must provide the administrator or their designee with written notice not later than 72 hours after the arrest, conviction or notification that the person has been listed as a perpetrator in the statewide database.

Is there any penalty for not disclosing conviction of an offense that would constitute grounds for denying participation in a program, activity or service, or is named as a perpetrator in a founded or indicated report?

A volunteer who willfully fails to disclose information as required commits a misdemeanor of the third degree and shall be subject to discipline up to and including termination or denial of a volunteer position.

What is the provisional clearance requirement for volunteers?

Individuals who reside in another state or country may serve as a volunteer for no more than 30 days as long as they provide clearances from their state or country of residence. If the individual will be volunteering for more than 30 days, they must obtain clearances as outlined above under “Which clearances are needed.” Volunteers who reside in Pennsylvania do not have a provisional period and must obtain clearances as outlined above under “Which clearances are needed.”

Is the person responsible for acceptance of volunteers required to keep a copy of my clearances?

Yes, pursuant to § 6344 (b.1), the employer, administrator, supervisor or other person responsible for employment decisions or acceptance of the individual to serve in any capacity requiring clearances, shall maintain copies of the required information and require the individual to produce the original documents prior to employment or acceptance to serve in any such capacity, except provisional employees for limited periods as described in § 6344.2 (f) and outlined above.

Can my employer, administrator, supervisor or other person responsible for selection of volunteers require a clearance submittal?

An employer, administrator, supervisor or other person responsible for selection of volunteers that intentionally fails to require an applicant to submit the required clearance before the applicant’s hiring commits a misdemeanor of the third degree. Agencies are reminded that the Child Abuse clearance information is confidential and may not be released to other individuals.

Can an agency or organization institute additional standards?

Yes, nothing prohibits an organization from requiring additional information as part of the clearance process.

Can my clearances be transferred?

Yes, any person who obtained their clearances within the previous 36 months may serve in a volunteer capacity for any program, activity or service.

As a volunteer, do I obtain my Federal Bureau of Investigation Criminal History check through the Department of Education or the Department of Human Services?

The agency under which an applicant should submit their FBI clearance application is based on the agency or organization for which they intend to volunteer. If the applicant intends to volunteer in a church related function, they would apply for their FBI clearance through the Department of Education. If the applicant intends to volunteer with children in any other capacity outside of a church setting they would apply for their FBI clearance through the Department of Human Services.

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Safe Haven Coordinator

Bob Jordan

Safe Haven Forms & Links:


Electronic Instructions & Forms
Child Abuse Clearance
PA State Police Criminal History
FBI Fingerprint Criminal History
Affidavit/Disclosure Form

Tip: Even though it may ask, you no longer need to submit one form before applying for the others.

For more information click here.